Toyota 4runner Years to Avoid 2023 [Best & Worst]

From 1984 until the current, the Toyota 4Runner has been a midsize sport utility vehicle produced by the Japanese firm Toyota and sold across the globe. The Toyota Hilux Surf is the model’s official name in Japan.

When it was first introduced, the 4Runner was only a Toyota Hilux truck with a fiberglass cover over the body. However, the vehicle has since undergone significant autonomous evolution to become a cross between a compact and midsize SUV. Every one of Toyota’s 4Runners is made at the Toyota factory in Tahara, Aichi, Japan.

Instead of creating an entirely new vehicle for the 1983 introduction of the first generation N60 series Hilux Surf and exporting the standard 4Runner, Toyota modified the current Hilux to include a short-bed truck chassis. This was the first time the Hilux has had such a significant facelift, and it was done in 1984. In 1989, Toyota launched a new generation of Hilux Surf and 4Runner.

The N120/N130 series continues to use the Hilux pickup as a base for these variants. Design-wise, it was a considerable shift from the preceding model. The new 4Runners did away with the fiberglass cap in favor of a completely new body made of steel that was bolted directly to the truck’s existing chassis. Below mentioned will be the best and worst years for Toyota 4runner first generation.

First-generation 4runner years to avoid

  • Years to avoid 1988 – 1989
  • Best years 1986 – 1987

This model of the 4Runner suffers from the same defect in engine design that plagues other 3.0-liter engines, which results in ongoing issues with the head gasket. When it comes to dependability, going with the larger 2.4-liter engine is recommended.

Nevertheless, a sagging suspension was one of the most typical difficulties that occurred. The reason for this is that Toyota did not improve the rear springs when they converted the Pickup into a Highlander.

Because they come standard with a 2.4-liter engine, these versions of the first-generation Toyota 4Runner are superior to the others. When it comes to dependability, the engine with 2.4 liters is by far the best option. This is because the head gasket in this engine does not exhibit any signs of malfunction.

Second-generation 4runner years to avoid

  • Years to avoid 1994 – 1995
  • Best years 1990 – 1993

The most problematic aspect of the second-generation Toyota 4Runner is its 3.0-liter V6 engine. The trust issues aren’t quite as severe as those that affect the third-generation 4Runners. These engines are renowned for having issues with the head gaskets beginning to fail.

They don’t fail once, either; even after they are mended, and a significant amount of money has been invested in the car to have it fixed, the head gasket will fail again and again because it’s built into the engine itself. This is a consequence of the way that engines are constructed.

The vast majority of these Toyota 4Runners have drooping suspension and power steering leakage after racking up a massive proportion of miles. Both of these issues are one of the most severe flaws that consumers find with their vehicles and are often cited in their complaints.

4runner faults by year count 

Model year Number of reported problems
1995 5
1996 1
1997 11
1998 10
1999 15
2000 25
2001 17
2002 22
2003 94
2004 101
2005 83
2006 33
2007 15
2008 17
2009 3
2010 6
2011 14
2018 17
2013 18
2014 24
2015 26

What to Look For When Shopping for a Used Toyota 4Runner?

If you are searching for an SUV that is capable of handling the challenges presented by backcountry terrain, either the first or second generation of the Toyota 4Runner would be an ideal choice. It is important to keep in mind that rust has no impact on the way the mechanical components of a car function, and it is quite unlikely that you will locate a vehicle from this generation that is free of rust.

If you are looking for a 4Runner that can transport you about town in a manner that is relatively fashionable while still providing comfort for passengers and room for groceries and storage, then a 4Runner from a more recent generation is an excellent alternative for you to consider. Even a fifth-generation 4Runner has some off-road capability but on a more limited scale.

Toyota 4runner models to avoid

It is strong that you avoid the following models of Toyota 4runner

  • 2003 4runner
  • 2004 4runner
  • 2005 4runner
  • 2006 4runner
  • 2015 4runner

What are some common Toyota 4runner problems?

Generally speaking, the Toyota 4Runner is rated well for its expected dependability. Despite that, some Toyota 4runner problems will be discussed below.

Braking system problems –The Toyota 4Runner has issues with its braking system beginning with the 2014 model year and continuing through the 2017 model year. Many drivers have reported that their brakes have intermittently failed or become immobile. There were issues with the front brake rotor and the brake master cylinder warping and wearing out prematurely, according to some further reports.

Rust/body/paint problems – Problems have been reported with the braking system of the Toyota 4Runner starting with the 2014 model year and continuing through the 2017 model year. It has been reported by several motorists that their brakes have failed sporadically or have frozen completely.

There were issues with warping and early wear on the front brake rotor as well as the brake master cylinder, according to some further sources.

Damaged/cracked dashboard – Dashboards of 2004 4Runners were frequently reported to have issues including sticking, melting, and cracking. It would seem that dashboards that were subjected to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight have melted or been harmed in some other way. The problem isn’t only an aesthetic one; it might also hinder the deployment of the airbag.

Transmission issues – Transmission issues plagued 4Runners from 1990 through 2016, causing jerky shifting and power loss. There are two possible culprits: a bad shift solenoid or a bad throttle position sensor that must be replaced. Toyota 4runner reliability by year and generation by generation is increasing.

Why is Toyota 4runners great?

Many Toyota 4runner is for sale currently. This makes it all the more worth it to look at its pros. While keeping up with the greatest model years, Toyota 4Runners are excellent overall because they are more dependable and survive longer than one would think. Everyday errands to off-roading pursuits may be accomplished in all weather or road conditions with these vehicles.

As a result, you’ll save more money in the long run than most people. This car’s engine is likewise top-notch, but not as cutting-edge as some of the other versions. The 4Runner has a passenger capacity of seven, allowing for a larger family to fit.

The seats in the first and second rows are both comfortable and useful, while the third row has lots of space. The seats in the rear may be folded flat for sleep or longer excursions like camping, so cargo capacity isn’t a problem.

Front and rear parking sensors are also available to make parking easier while ensuring that no harm is done to another vehicle. For individuals who prefer not to deal with the annoyances of modern technology, infotainment systems are available. So is a Toyota 4runner reliable? The answer is YES.

Here’s Why You Can’t Afford a Toyota 4Runner Anymore

Jake Mayock